Bark Processing

To use the bark strips, first the inner and the outer bark needed to be separated. This usually involved the use of a small, sharp tool to physically separate the bark. The bark could also be separated by breaking it at intervals of suitable length to pull the outer bark away from the inner bark. Drying was the next stage in processing the bark; this was accomplished by hanging the bark or laying the bark out flat on the ground until it had fully dried.

The inner bark was the major focus of the processing efforts, and entailed turning what could be considered a hard, coarse material into something which would scarcely be considered a wood product. Shredding was the most common method to soften the inner bark, but was primarily used on young tree bark, as the bark is thin and easier to process. Shredding required absolutely dry bark; sometimes, to ensure the bark was completely dry, it was passed over a fire before working it. The bark was then laid over a hard, rounded wood surface or stone, and beaten with a hardwood implement. Depending on the thickness of the bark being processed, the amount of time and energy required to separate the fibrous layers of the bark could differ immensely.

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